“Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side.
Elijah’s Contest – God is Near
He had taken just about all he was going to take from the prophets of Baal. The Israelite Prophet Elijah was sent to Ahab, King of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Ahab had abandoned God and had taken up with the false god of the Canaanite’s, Baal.
God sends Elijah to confront them all in order to show that God is the only true God!
The confrontation is a contest of burnt offerings. The prophets of Baal set up their offering and plea with Baal to burn it up.
Elijah sets up his offering to God. Then he pours gallons of water on it. Then he does it again. And again and again.
This offering is soaked through and through. Yet, when Elijah prays that God would burn it up that is exactly what happens. The fire of God descends from heaven and the entire offering, the wood, even the stones and the dirt around it, all were consumed by this holy fire.
Elijah Feels God is Far Away
The result was that many people turned back to God.
But another result was that Elijah becomes a hunted man. A death sentence is put on his head. Where is God now, he must have wondered.
He runs. He gets about a week’s head-start from those hunting him. But he’s weary. He had been doing all that God had called him to do and he still is hated and hunted.
After seven days on the run, he collapses. An angel is sent to strengthen him. This messenger prompts Elijah to go find God, to get near him again.
Elijah travels forty more days to the place where it all began – Mt. Horeb (also known as Sinai). Like Moses five hundred years before, Elijah seeks God. He waits in a cave (Moses was in a cleft in the rock).
God Comes Near in An Unexpected Way
Elijah felt abandoned by God. He then goes looking for God. In dealing with the prophets of Baal, God was near in an awesome way. So, Elijah goes looking for God in awesome things.
In a great wind. But Elijah didn’t find God.
An earthquake. But again, Elijah didn’t find God.
A raging fire! Surely God would be here as he was with the offering contest. But, no. God’s not in the fire this time.
Then a whisper. A still, small voice. This was it! But how did Elijah know?
I don’t know. He just knew! Maybe he was guessing, maybe he knew deep in in his heart.
Certainly, faith is involved. However, even though it appears that Elijah was hoping that God was in the whisper, he wasn’t wrong!
Up Close and Personal
The thing is, God came near to Elijah in a personal way.
The sacrifice contest with the prophets of Baal? Yes, God was there. But in a big, bombastic, not-to-be-missed-or-kept-to-yourself way.
This time, though, when Elijah really needed God to be near, God gets close enough to Elijah to whisper in his ear!
God does the same for you and for me. He comes close to us, close enough to whisper. Close enough to touch!
Eight hundred years after Elijah, a man named Thomas was also having a crisis of faith. His close friend had been crucified. He had hoped this would be the Messiah! But he had died on a Roman cross.
Then three days later he gets word from his brothers that Jesus is alive! “You just missed him!” he’s told.
He can’t believe it. I mean he really can’t believe it! A week later, Jesus shows up.
“Thomas, come here.” Jesus calls. “Touch my hands, touch my side. It’s me. Don’t doubt. Believe!” (see John 20:24-29).
Jesus gets up close and person with Thomas.
Christ is just as near to us. Jesus is as near as the Bible. As near as bread and wine. He’s as near as a brother and sister in Christ.
As St. Paul said to some Athenians, “he is actually not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27).
You can have this kind of personal relationship with God. Pick up a Bible (or read it online) and visit a church or talk to a person you know who is a Christian!
Heavenly Father, I want to feel you near to me. Help me to be quiet to listen for your whisper. Help me to know your Son, Jesus Christ, who became a man to save all the world from sin. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
© 2019 True Men Ministries